21 August 2017

Deep Thought

I think that my car is getting more miles per gallon of gas than my colon.

20 August 2017

Yeah, That Would Be Great

It appears that the House of Saud has finally noticed that the majority of the citizens of Iraq are Shia, and they are determined to reestablish Sunni hegemony in the region, because, after all, it's worked so f%$#ing well in Syria and Yemen:
Iraq and Saudi Arabia are negotiating a new alliance that would give Riyadh a leading role in rebuilding Iraq’s war-torn towns and cities, while bolstering Baghdad’s credentials across the region.

Meetings between senior officials on both sides over the past six months have focused on shepherding Iraq away from its powerful neighbour and Saudi Arabia’s long-time rival, Iran, whose influence over Iraqi affairs has grown sharply since the 2003 ousting of Saddam Hussein.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia have long been considered opponents in the region, but a visit by the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to Riyadh last week and a follow-up trip to the UAE further thawed relations which had already been much improved by high-profile visits between the two countries.


“This visit was an important step in ensuring that Iraq returns to the Arab fold and is supported in doing so by friendly partners,” said the former Saudi minister of state Saad al-Jabri. “This necessitates limiting Tehran’s continued attempts to dominate Iraq and spread sectarianism. Broader engagement between Riyadh and Baghdad will lead the way for enhanced regional support for Iraq, especially from the Gulf states. This is essential after the capture of Mosul from Isis and as Iraq looks towards national reconstruction.” 
The House of Saud created ISIS, and now these arsonists want a piece of the action rebuilding after the conflagration.

A rapprochement between Sunni and Shia in Iraq is essential to the nation's future as a unitary state.

Involving Riyadh in this process would be an unmitigated disaster.

19 August 2017

Asshole Loser of the Day: Vinod Khosla

A California court has ordered a Silicon Valley billionaire to restore access to a beloved beach that he closed off for his private use, a major victory for public lands advocates who have been fighting the venture capitalist for years.

An appeals court ruled on Thursday that Vinod Khosla, who runs the venture capital firm Khosla Ventures and co-founded the tech company Sun Microsystems, must unlock the gates to Martins Beach in northern California by his property.

The decision is a major blow to Khosla and other wealthy landowners who have increasingly tried to buy up the internationally celebrated beaches along the California coast and turn public lands into private property.

The beach was a popular destination for fishing, surfing and other recreational activities for nearly a century, and the previous owners provided a general store and public restroom. But Khosla eventually bought the property and in 2010 closed public access, putting up signs warning against trespassing.

Khosla, who has a net worth of $1.55bn and does not live on the property, has faced multiple lawsuits and legislative efforts to get him to open up the gate to the beach near Half Moon Bay, about 30 miles south of San Francisco. The law in California states that all beaches should be open to the public up to the “mean high tide line”.

The decision this week, affirming a lower court ruling, stems from a lawsuit filed by the Surfrider Foundation, a not-for-profit group that says the case could have broader implications for beach access across the US.

“Vinod Khosla, with his billions of dollars, bought this piece of property and said, ‘No, no, the public isn’t going to use this anymore. End of story,’” the Surfrider attorney Joe Cotchett said by phone on Thursday. “He got away with it for many years … This is probably one of the most important public right-of-access cases in the country.”
You know, maybe if we actually enforced the rules against the rich, we would have a better society.

18 August 2017

Outside the Tent Pissing In

As you may have heard, Steve Bannon has left the White House.

So, as the saying goes, he has gone from inside the tent pissing out to outside the tent pissing in.

The interesting thing here is whether or not Bannon actually likes Trump and sees him as a means to an end.

His behavior over the next few months should tell us that.

I expect attacks against his former White House rivals, it's whether those attacks extend to the Donald.

17 August 2017

Damn! I was Hoping for a Trial in Open Court

The lawsuit agaisnt the CIA's torture psychologists has been settled, so the rest of us won't find out what they did:

A settlement in a lawsuit against two psychologists who were paid tens of millions of dollars to design torture techniques used by the CIA in black-site prisons was announced on Thursday. The terms of the settlement were undisclosed.

Two of the plaintiffs in the case, Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ben Soud, were held and brutalized in 2003 in a secret CIA facility in Afghanistan that prisoners called “The Darkness”. Salim, who is Tanzanian, and Ben Soud, who is Libyan, were eventually released and are now living in their home countries with their families.

A third plaintiff is a young Afghan computer engineer whose uncle, Gul Rahman, was tortured to death in November 2002 in the same facility.

The three filed the lawsuit in October 2015 against James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, contract psychologists who devised a menu of abusive interrogation methods and billed the CIA between $75m and $81m. The plaintiffs sought damages from the men for allegedly aiding and abetting torture, non-consensual human experimentation and war crimes.
You may recall that these were the guys whose lawyers inaccurately claimed that the maker of Zyklon-B weren't held liable for their aiding genocide.

I'm not happy.  Their misdeed should have been revealed to the world.

Honestly, they should be spending the rest of their lives in jail.

Headline of the Day

Removing Confederate Statues Isn't Sanitizing History—It's Fumigating History
Charlie Pierce
Insert cockroach metaphor here.

16 August 2017

TASS: Military & Defense - Russia’s 5th-generation fighter jet named as Su-57

Roll promotional video with cheesy music
The Sukhoi fighter jet, has had its name updated from T-50 (Basically the company's internal designation meaning the 50th delta wing model) to the official Russian military designation Su-57. (Also here)

I don't think that this means a whole bunch in the greater scheme of things, but have a promotional video for the 5th generation fighter.

It doesn't reflect much in the way of a change in the status of the aircraft:  It's still a limited production prototype, and the intended final engine is years down the road, but it does make for some decent videos.

Hurray Charm City!

Last night, without any advance notice, the City of Baltimore removed the 4 Confederate monuments in the City.

If the Neo-Nazis show up to protest, I recommend that every policeman assigned to protect their sorry ass get a case of severe existential nausea that day, and don't show up to protect them.

15 August 2017

Light Posting for the Next Few Days

Starting a new job at Tate Access Floors, a manufacturer of raised access floors.

As always, this is likely the last time that I will post about Tate, or my job, because blogging about your workplace is not a good way to stay at that workplace.

In any case, I'll be learning the ropes, and as such will have less time to blog for a while.

Getting into a Fight with Uber Over "Principles" Is Like Trying to Have a Reasoned Argument with a Mosh Pit Full of Rabid, Syphilitic Monkeys.

The above title is a comments from a story about how Uber screwed over a customer whose stuff was stolen by one of their drivers.

The short version is that the driver drove off with his stuff, and Uber steadfastly refused to help him contact the driver, and when sued (small claims) lied to the court.

To quote the film Aliens, nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.


Here is Woody Allen seizing the moral high ground (odd thing to say these days) in regards to Nazis in Manhattan:

14 August 2017

Between the Ages of 7 & 13, I Lived in Charlottesville

What the Dead Kennedy's Said

Goddamn Virginia Nazis!
Nazis, not an exaggeration, see the photo, marched in Charlottesville over the weekend carrying firearms and wearing body armor, and were greeted by counter protesters.

One of the Nazis drove his car into protestors, killing one. (He's been caught and jailed.

There is video of the attack, but I strongly recommend avoiding it.

Trump, who has called this sort of attack terrorism repeatedly in the past, responded with a lame ass "both sides do it" statement, which was quickly followed by widespread condemnation from a chorus of critics, including the New York Times and a startlingly large number of Republicans.

Following this, and the resignation of 3 members of his council of U.S. business leaders, Trump finally issued a grudging condemnation of white supremacists:
President Trump is facing a crossroad in his presidency — a choice between adopting the better-angels tone of a traditional White House or doubling down on the slashing, go-it-alone approach that got him elected in 2016.

On Monday, he tried to walk both paths — and satisfied neither supporters nor critics.

Mr. Trump, bowing to overwhelming pressure that he personally condemn white supremacists who incited bloody weekend demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., on Monday labeled their views as racist and “evil” after two days of issuing equivocal statements.

“Racism is evil,” said Mr. Trump, delivering a statement from the White House at a hastily arranged appearance meant to halt the growing political threat posed by the unrest. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
When law enforcement needs to pursue what happened as terrorism, and the media needs to describe it as terrorism.

The fact that this term, and those laws, are never applied when white people are involved has contributed to this problem.

Right wing terrorism accounts for more than 3 x the number of attacks from Islamists in the United States, but it's not a priority, because of their ineffable whiteness.

It is white privilege writ large.

Tweet of the Day

This is unbelievably true.

Pass the Popcorn, Uber Edition

As I have noted earlier, Travis Kalanick was removed as CEO of Uber, and I noted that the company is having problems finding a replacement, because, among other problems,* is that Kalanick imagines himself to be Steve Jobs, and has been meticulously planning a comeback.

While Kalanick shares some characteristics with Steve Jobs, most notably they are both frequently described as sociopaths, but Jobs actually had an eye for design and a vision beyond being a professional asshole.

But Kalanick is trying for a return to the captain's chair, and has been marshaling his forces, while the people who are concerned about parade of increasingly toxic revelations are fighting him.

The main advocate of keeping Kalanick away from management is Benchmark Capital, a private equity firm, and they just upped the stakes by filing a lawsuit against Kalanick for fraud:
Benchmark Capital sued Uber Technologies Inc.’s former chief Travis Kalanick in an effort to oust him from the board, exposing a clash between two of the ride-hailing company’s most powerful and contentious shareholders during the middle of a CEO search.

The lawsuit on Thursday alleges Mr. Kalanick defrauded directors into giving him more control over the board by hiding a range of “inappropriate and unethical directives.”

The allegations center around a decision in June 2016 by Mr. Kalanick to expand the board to 11 seats from eight, effectively giving him control over the designation of those additional seats, the firm said.  

Benchmark, which has a seat on the board, said it never would have authorized that move had it known about the company’s “gross mismanagement and other misconduct at Uber,” citing sexual-harassment allegations at the company, the handling of a rape incident involving a passenger in India and a lawsuit from Google parent Alphabet Inc. over the alleged theft of trade secrets.

In a statement, Mr. Kalanick’s spokesman said the lawsuit is without merit and “riddled with lies and false allegations.” He said Benchmark is attempting to deprive Mr. Kalanick of his rights as a founder and shareholder and silence his voice.
It's pretty clear that Kalanick was concealing this stuff from the board, as evidenced by the alacrity with which they defenestrated him when the revelations came to light.

Another group of investors, comprised of Kalanick bros and people who value a complete lack of ethics in the executive suite, are calling for Benchmark to leave the board.

I have a feeling that Benchmark is in a win-win situation:  Either they will beat Kalanick, or they will be bought out at significant profit.

I do think that Benchmark thinks that they will prevail in their lawsuit, because they gave Kalanick a month's notice before filing the lawsuit, which implies to me that either they have incontrovertible evidence of fraud, or that the revelations of a trial would be disastrous for Uber's investors:
The saga between the powerhouse venture firm Benchmark and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick continues. Following last week’s lawsuit revelation, Benchmark penned a public letter to Uber employees explaining why it is taking legal action against Kalanick, who remains on Uber’s board and controls two other, empty board seats.

Today, Benchmark doubled down on its decision, writing a note addressed to Uber employees, saying that not only should it sue, but “perhaps the better question is why didn’t we act sooner.” The firm said that when the CEO search began more than 50 days ago, Kalanick agreed in writing to “modify the company’s voting agreement to ensure that the board was composed of independent, diverse, and well qualified directors.” Benchmark is alleging that Kalanick has not followed through on this agreement and that he was warned more than a month ago that he would be subject to potential litigation.
(emphasis mine)

I plan to milk this for as much entertainment value as possible.

It's like trying not to stare at a car wreck.

*Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

13 August 2017

Headline of the Day

In Desperate Bid For Relevancy, Another Group Of Third Way Democrats Launch Organization
Will Marshall, a big supporter of Joe Lieberman, came to my attention when he was blogging at the Bull Moose (frequently called the Bullsh%$ Moose) blog.

He is the president of a "think tank" that was affiliated with the DLC, and his solution to everything is for Democrats to act like Republicans.

12 August 2017

Tweet of the Day

Banksey would look at this graffiti, and be profoundly impressed.

11 August 2017

Seriously Neat Tech

Spider silk has some remarkable mechanical properties. Its low weight, high strength, an low modulus make it a potential break through in body armor.

The problem is spiders, which produce the material in very limited quantities, and their cannibalistic proclivities mitigate against high intensity farming.

Well, it looks like the DoD is trying to get silk genetically engineered worms to produce spider silk an alternative:
The U.S. Army is upping its investment in genetically engineered spider silk for body armor. Last year, the service paid almost $100,000 to Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, which makes spider silk that can be produced at scale — with silkworms. On Wednesday, the company announced that the Army will move to the second phase of the contract and will look to Kraig to produce a customized strain of the silk for “high-performance fibers for protective apparel applications.” That is: flexible body armor made from genetically engineered spider silk. The total contract amount would reach $900,000 if parameters are met. Army representatives said that interested in the material purely from a research perspective, for now.

Kraig Biocraft injects spider DNA into silkworm eggs, enabling the worms to produce its custom silk. The researchers describe the process in this 2011 PNAS paper.

Spider silk is much tougher than regular worm silk, and about half as tough as Kevlar. But it’s far more flexible, (3 percent elasticity for kevlar versus nearly 40 percent for spider silk.) The Army believes that the energy absorption of the material could be much higher than kevlar (as determined by multiplying the strength of the fiber by the elongation.)

It’s also much more elastic and flexible than kevlar. But getting enough spider silk to clothe an Army is a tall order. The crawly arachnids don’t produce silk in high volume and when you crowd spiders too close together, they eat each other. The quest to produce spider silk in hosts other than spiders has led researchers to use a variety of other methods such as yeast, e. coli bacteria and mammalian cells. 
There is also the fact that the techniques for handling silkworms, and harvesting the silk, have been known for thousands of years.

It is also far less alarming than the prospect of an escape of motherf%$#ing mutant spiders.

Of Course Heads Are Exploding, Their Post Retirement Sinecures Are at Risk

Turkey is in serious discussions with the Russians over procuring their very long range SAM systems, and the US military is having a major sh%$ fit over this:
The Pentagon on Monday criticized Turkey’s plans to purchase a Russian air-defense system instead of investing in NATO technology.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in talks to get Russia to supply Ankara with its latest S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the Pentagon had concerns over its NATO ally’s purchase of the Russian technology because it might not work with other equipment used by the 29-nation alliance.


The S-400 system has a range of about 400 kilometers (250 miles) and is designed to shoot down enemy aircraft.
The Patriot has a range of about 160 km (200 miles), significantly less than the S-400, and unlike the Patriot system, it was designed from the start to be a part of an IADS (integrated air defense system), which means that integrating it with (Russian) short range missiles and AAA is easier and more straightforward.

Incorporating NATO standard IFF (identify friend or foe) into this system is not rocket science.  (Pun not intended)

US and NATO doctrine has always been about air superiority being the primary way to protect the troops on the ground, the Russians, and the Soviets before them, relied far more on an IADS, and so have applied more resources to these systems.

Because of this, their systems are more capable than western systems.

The Pentagon is freaking out because some of the generals are worried that a comfortable retirement as a consultant at Raytheon are jeopardized.

Headline of the Day

Kushner to Interns: Trump Team Too Disorganized to Collude With Russia
Foreign Policy
You know, this is a pretty convincing argument.

Between Scaramucci and Flynn, these guys couldn't organize a piss up in a brewery

Why the Military Should Not Be Used to Build International Relationships


Favoring the military over alternative tools of U.S. foreign policy remains one of the few consistencies within the current administration. Internal documents have proposed folding USAID into the State Department and “zeroing” out development assistance programs that do not advance specific U.S. political or strategic objectives. With few civilian appointees in either the Departments of Defense or State and unprecedented levels of “authorization,” the uniformed services enjoy tremendous operational discretion with few civilian counterbalances either inside or outside the Pentagon.

The trend of shifting foreign policy funds towards programs with an explicit security focus long predates the Trump administration. A third of all U.S. foreign aid funds, $17 billion, goes towards military aid and security assistance, making it on its own the fourth-largest foreign aid budget in the world. Moreover, management of this security assistance money has migrated away from the State Department to the Pentagon. A recent Open Society report shows that, whereas in 2011 the Defense Department directed only 17 percent of all security assistance (compared to the State Department’s 80 percent), by 2015 the Defense Department’s share had increased to 57 percent and the State Department’s had dropped to 42 percent. Officials wearing digicam rather than pinstripes are delivering an increasing percentage of U.S. assistance.

While the broad potential problems with this trend have been wellexplored, in this article we focus on a concrete implication by looking at an important component of U.S. assistance: the training of other states’ militaries and security personnel, known as foreign military training (FMT). As in the case of Egypt, this training can empower its uniformed recipients to participate more in their home countries’ internal politics, up to and including coups.


According to the U.S. government, in fiscal year 2015 approximately 76,400 students from 154 countries participated in U.S. foreign military training, costing $876.5 million. Colleagues have recently argued that this sort of security assistance rarely achieves its stated goals of contributing to U.S. foreign policy objectives through “helping allies and partners improve their defense capabilities and enhance their ability to participate in missions alongside U.S. forces.” In contrast, we argue that in some cases, security assistance does have a profound effect, albeit in ways unintended by the donor. By strengthening the military in states with few counterbalancing civilian institutions, U.S. foreign military training can lead to both more military-backed coup attempts, as well as a higher likelihood of a coup’s success.


This might seem counterintuitive since the training provided to these officers is designed to encourage liberal values including respect for civilian control, a norm central to the U.S. military’s own identity. Moreover, the United States normally cuts security assistance when a coup occurs, which should deter military officers from attempting a takeover.

We argue, however, that the norm most likely to be transmitted by U.S. training is one to which foreign military officers are already receptive: a professional identity independent from that of their own government. The U.S. military’s distinct professional culture is largely based on Samuel Huntington’s notion of “objective civilian control.” This ideal precludes military interference by in politics, but it also generates a strong, separate corporate identity. Huntington himself recognized that, in countries that are not solidly established democracies, the more professional the military considers itself, the higher its temptation to intervene in political affairs.
This has been known for years.  The unsavory reputation of the School of the Americas, which led to its renaming in 2000.

Prank Turned Research Project

Not the test, just a a prank in the vid
At the Virginia Tech, researchers have dressed up a card seat to evaluate public responses to unmanned cars:
Tech blogs went crazy over the weekend after a new self-driving car was seen rolling around Arlington, Virginia.

Unlike vehicles from Google Waymo, Uber and others, the car didn’t have any obvious signs of a Lidar array, the chunky imaging technology most autonomous vehicles use to gauge the state of the road ahead. Instead, it had just a small bar mounted on the dashboard, which blinked red when it was at a stop light and green once the cost was clear.

Even more intriguingly, the car appeared to be genuinely autonomous: there was no-one sitting in the driver’s seat. Typically, a human overseer is required in the testing phase to make sure that the car doesn’t go wild and run over a marching band, but somehow this car had managed to find a loophole.


But still a question remained. Who was behind this breakthrough new technology? How were they solving the problems that had stymied even the mighty Alphabet/Google/Waymo megacorp?

You’ve read the headline. You know the answer: it was a bloke dressed up as a car seat.


But one aspect of the rumour mill was correct: the guy really was associated with Virginia Tech. According to the university’s transportation institute, he was engaged in research about autonomous vehicles, likely gathering data about the reaction of normal drivers to sharing road space with a self-driving car.
I'm not sure if this was a real study, or just an excuse for some researcher to f%$# with fellow drivers.

My money on the latter.

Like This Guy is Going to Save the World

For 12 years Elon Musk had a personal assistant. When she asked for a raise, he told her to take a vacation so he could see how essential her services were.

When she came back, he he told her that her services were not required, and he fired her. (See also here and here)
Elon Musk is a busy billionaire who you might imagine has a lot of people working for him to keep all of his various projects afloat, but Business Insider brought up an anecdote from a biography of Musk today about how he once fired his long-time assistant for asking for a raise. (Update: Elon Musk has denied the biography’s account on Twitter.)

Look, obviously being the super rich guy behind some of the most influential American companies in recent history is going to make you feel important and probably turn into kind of a jerk. But this anecdote is almost something else, so here it is, as summarized by Business Insider from Musk’s biography, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by author Ashlee Vance:
According to Vance, the assistant, Mary Beth Brown, asked Musk for a significant raise after she’d been working with him for 12 years. In response, Musk told Brown to take two weeks off, during which he would assume her responsibilities and see whether she was critical to his success.

When Brown returned, Musk told her he didn’t need her anymore.

Musk also told Vance that he offered Brown another position at the company but that she never returned to the office after that.
Now, of course, this is just an anecdote in a biography, so the telling of what happened may not be exactly as it actually happened. Does it sound like this is something Musk would do? Yeah. Does anyone think Musk can actually operate without an assistant? You probably shouldn’t.

But! After some brief digging to see if I could find something else, I found a Quora posting from the verified profile of Justine Musk, ex-wife of Elon, that practically doubles down on Mary Beth Brown’s story, as well as how insane it is to have any sort of relationship with Elon Musk:
Mary Beth Brown started working for Elon soon after we moved to LA twelve or thirteen years ago (Elon and I were still married then). MB was an exceptional and devoted employee of Elon’s and lovely to deal with on a personal level. She gave her life to the job — and to our family — and the news of her departure was a shock to me.

Apparently (according, I believe, to Ashlee Vance, who wrote the book on Elon), MB asked for a raise. E told her that if she was truly critical to SpaceX, it should not be able to operate in her absence (or something to that effect). He suggested a 3-week experiment to test this hypothesis/her worth. This reminds me of something similar he once said to me, many years ago, after I came back from a week’s visit with my family in Canada — that his life had operated quite smoothly in my absence. He was letting me know that I was an incompetent house manager. (He was not wrong.) So of the different stories I have heard behind MB’s departure from SpaceX, this is the one that resonates with me. (Although you would *never* use the word ‘incompetent’ in association with MB!)

Wherever MB is and whatever she is doing, I hope her life is fabulous. She and I have not always been on the same side, but I have — and will always have — tremendous respect for that remarkable woman.
Abraham Lincoln once said , "I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."

By this standard, Elon Musk's cult of well ……… Elon Musk  ……… severely lacking.

10 August 2017

Snark of the Day

I’m a Google Manufacturing Robot and I Believe Humans Are Biologically Unfit to Have Jobs in Tech
McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

09 August 2017

Light Posting for a While

Working on an issue at the Stellar Parthenon BBS, where I am an admin.

Looks like I'm going to have my evenings occupied for a while.

This Makes the F-35 Program Look Well Run

I am referring, of course, to India's history with developing indigenous weapons systems.

For example, we have the now-terminated and protracted development of the Arjun tank and the INSAS rifle system, but Tejas program, has suffered through a 33+ year development program is crown jewel of this dubious crown.

And now we see more schedule slippage:
The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed further delays in the country’s programme to produce the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The MoD said in a statement on 4 August that state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has delivered just four aircraft to the IAF out of 40 ordered in 2005. All these aircraft were previously scheduled to be delivered to the IAF by 2017–18.

The four aircraft so far delivered are from a batch of 20 designated for initial operational clearance (IOC), while the remaining 20 aircraft were designated for final operational clearance (FOC).

The MoD said that 12 remaining aircraft under the IOC batch are at the production stage and four more aircraft, which will be used as trainers, will be produced following necessary approvals by the MoD’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).

It added that production of the 20 FOC aircraft will also depend on clearance by the ADA, which has led the Tejas development programme for the past three decades.
This is f%$#ed up and sh%$.

This Ain't Rocket Science ……… It's Just Nuclear Warheads

In January 2016, the DPRK claimed to detonate a hydrogen bomb. At the time, I said that it was likely boosted fission device, which would be a step toward a miniaturized warhead.

Yesterday, anonymous intelligence sources claimed that North Korea had a miniaturized warhead suitable for use on its recently fired missile:
North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, U.S. intelligence officials have concluded in a confidential assessment.

The analysis, completed last month by the Defense Intelligence Agency, comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the communist country’s atomic arsenal. The United States calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Some independent experts think the number is much smaller.

The findings are likely to deepen concerns about an evolving North Korean military threat that appears to be advancing far more rapidly than many experts had predicted. U.S. officials concluded last month that Pyongyang is also outpacing expectations in its effort to build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the American mainland.
You know, maybe it's the time to engage in direct talks, exchange ambassadors, and END THE F%$#ING KOREAN WAR, which is still technically ongoing.

The US position, complete capitulation as a prelude to negotiations, is not a winning strategy.

Earlier posts are here,.

Pass the Popcorn

I've always felt that the whole Russia hysteria is primarily about those who screwed the pooch in 2016 finding a scapegoat upon which they would attach the blame.

At best, the underlying criminal act is a violation of campaign finance law, and given the current dysfunctional nature of the Federal Elections Commission mitigates against even that.

That being said, in this sort of situation, it's frequently not the crime, it's the coverup, and when the FBI executes a predawn raid on one of the principals in the matter, it's starting to get really interesting:
FBI agents raided the home in Alexandria, Va., of President Trump’s former campaign chairman, arriving in the pre-dawn hours late last month and seizing documents and other materials related to the special counsel investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The raid, which occurred without warning on July 26, signaled an aggressive new approach by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team in dealing with a key figure in the Russia inquiry. Manafort has been under increasing pressure as the Mueller team looked into his personal finances and his professional career as a highly paid foreign political consultant.

Using a search warrant, agents appeared the day Manafort was scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and a day after he met voluntarily with Senate Intelligence Committee staff members.

The search warrant requested documents related to tax, banking and other matters. People familiar with the search said agents departed the Manafort residence with a trove of material, including binders prepared ahead of Manafort’s congressional testimony.

Investigators in the Russia inquiry have previously sought documents with subpoenas, which are less intrusive and confrontational than a search warrant. With a warrant, agents can inspect a physical location and seize any useful information. To get a judge to sign off on a search warrant, prosecutors must show that there is probable cause that a crime has been committed
This must have rattled their cages.


John Oliver describes the cluterf%$# that is the US Border Patrol:

    08 August 2017

    About that Russian Sanctions Bill

    Contained within that bill are a number of waivers, and they provide a precise road map on how Russia can best retaliate against the US.

    The one that immediately comes to mind is waivers for NASA, and in particular the RD-180 engine used by the US Atlas launcher, but you will find a lot sprinkled throughout the bill.

    Looting 101

    Common across American business, but particularly cherished by the tech sector, is stock grants to senior management.

    It turns out that the primary reason for this is that it allows companies to ignore the cost of stratospheric pay levels and creating misleading metrics to justify bonuses:
    Investors liked what they saw in PayPal’s second-quarter financial results, reported by the digital and mobile payments giant on July 26. Revenues grew to $3.14 billion in the quarter that ended in June, an increase of 18 percent over the same period last year. Total payment volume of $106 billion was up 23 percent, year over year.

    Even better, PayPal’s favored earnings-per-share measure — which it does not calculate in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP — came in at 46 cents per share, 3 cents more than Wall Street analysts had expected. The company has trained investors to focus on this number, rather than on the less pretty GAAP-compliant numbers most companies are judged by. And focus they did.

    Exceeding analysts’ estimates — “beating the number,” in Wall Street parlance — is crucial for any corporate leader interested in keeping his or her stock price aloft. Even the smallest earnings miss can send shares tumbling.


    Naturally, many factors contributed to PayPal’s second-quarter earnings. But one element stands out: the amount the company dispensed to employees in the form of stock-based compensation.

    How could stock-based compensation — which is a company expense, after all — have helped PayPal’s performance in the quarter? Simple. The company does not consider stock awards a cost when calculating its favored earnings measure. So when PayPal doles out more stock compensation than it has done historically, all else being equal, its chosen non-GAAP income growth looks better.

    Accounting rules have required companies to include stock-based compensation as a cost of doing business for years. That’s as it should be: Stock awards have value, after all, or employees wouldn’t accept them as pay. And that value should be run through a company’s financial statements as an expense.


    Back in the 1990s, technology companies argued strenuously against having to run stock compensation costs through their profit-and-loss statements. Who can blame them for wanting to make an expense disappear?

    They lost that battle with the accounting rule makers. But then they took a new tack: Technology companies began providing alternative earnings calculations without such costs alongside results that were accounted for under GAAP, essentially offering two sets of numbers every quarter. The non-GAAP statements — called pro forma numbers or adjusted results — often exclude expenses like stock awards and acquisition costs. And the equity analysts who hold such sway on Wall Street seem to be fine with them.


    PayPal is by no means the only company that adds back the costs of stock-based compensation to its unconventional earnings calculations. Many technology companies do, contending, as PayPal does, that their own arithmetic “provides investors a consistent basis for assessing the company’s performance and helps to facilitate comparisons across different periods.”


    PayPal takes the opposite approach. [From companies like Google and Facebook] And look at what it does to its results.

    Under generally accepted accounting principles, PayPal reported operating income of $430 million in the second quarter of 2017. That was up almost 16 percent from the $371 million it produced in the same period last year.

    But under PayPal’s alternative accounting, its non-GAAP operating income was $659 million in the June quarter, an increase of almost 25 percent from 2016.

    So what’s to account for the added $230 million in operating income under PayPal’s preferred calculation? Most of it — $192 million — was stock-based compensation PayPal dispensed to employees in the June quarter and added back to its results as calculated under GAAP.

    That was a big jump — 57 percent — from the $122 million PayPal handed out during the second quarter of 2016. And back in 2015, PayPal reported just $89 million in stock awards.


    Craig Maurer is a partner at Autonomous, an independent investment research firm in New York. He follows payments companies and rates PayPal’s stock an underperformer.

    In a telephone interview, Mr. Maurer was critical of how the company accounts for stock-based pay. He said that as a percentage of PayPal’s non-GAAP operating income, stock-based compensation has risen to 29 percent this year from 17 percent in 2015.

    “They are literally taking a cost out of their income statement, moving it to a different line and backing it out of results,” Mr. Maurer said in an interview. “And you can see that it’s adding significantly to their ability to meet earnings expectations. If you backed out the difference between what we were expecting on stock-based comp in the quarter versus what they reported, it was 2 cents of earnings.”


    PayPal’s stock-based compensation practices have another noteworthy effect: They drive executive pay higher at the company. Here’s how.

    The company says it has three main metrics for calculating its managers’ performance pay each year. One of those measures, its proxy shows, is non-GAAP net income. So, as PayPal awards more and more stock to its executives and employees, non-GAAP net income shows better growth. And the greater that growth, the more incentive pay the company awards to its top executives.

    For PayPal insiders, at least, that’s one virtuous circle.
    While I have commented on a number of problems in the American economy, particularly excessive rent seeking through IP, it's important to note that business practices that have the effect of allowing managers to loot their companies, and defraud investors are a problem as well.

    An Interesting Take on Pommes Frites

    Natalie came across a french fry recipe online.

    First, you pickle them in brine before you fry them up.

    After a week or so, open the jar and rinse the fries off and then pat dry.

    Fry up as you would normal fries, and add salt immediately after cooking is done, and put on paper towels to drain the oil.

    Some notes:
    • Rinse very thoroughly.
    • The fries turn brown much faster than regular fries, well before they are done.  I think that some of the starches are converted to simple  sugars.
    • They are a lot like salt and vinegar potato chips.
    I rather liked them.

    07 August 2017

    Elon Musk Naked

    No, no pictures, I am referring to the fact that the emperor may have no clothes, and Elon Musk, in particular his Tesla Motors project, seems to be increasingly unmoored from reality:
    If you’re a hedge fund analyst looking over a public company’s numbers and you see a troubling financial trend making itself evident in the data (like a company burning through cash while booking revenue for a product that is seems perhaps incapable of delivering in the volume promised in the timeframe laid out), you will feel the natural urge to short that company’s stock and wait quietly for the money and praise to roll in.

    But we want you to pause for a moment and look at the top of that file. Does it say “Tesla Motors, Inc. (TSLA)”?

    It does?

    Yeah, you’re going to want to rethink that short, homie, because you have not factored “Blind Elon-ic Faith” into your Alpha.

    But you wouldn’t be alone.

    Tesla reported yesterday, and from a purely logical perspective it was a mixed bag:
    Tesla’s reported a net loss of $336 million, or $2.04 per share, compared to a loss of $293 million, or $2.09 a share, a year ago.

    Excluding stock based compensation, Tesla lost $1.33 a share, which was narrower than expected, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

    Revenue climbed to $2.79 billion from $1.27 billion in the year-ago period, and outpacing Wall Street’s estimates of $2.51 billion.
    Yeah, we said “mixed”:
    Heading into the earnings report, analysts expressed concerns about whether Tesla would ramp up production of its Model 3, a more affordable electric car with a base cost of $35,000, quick enough. In the past, Tesla has struggled with production issues.
    Musk also said that he hasn’t ruled out dipping a toe back into the debt market.

    See, Tesla is currently promising that it can make 1,500 of these things in the entire third quarter of this year, but Elon is also telling anyone who will listen that he will be able to make 10,000 in a week by the end of 2018. That kind of ramp-up has led a lot of people in the asset management game to doubt Tesla’s long-term strength, what with logic dictating that cash will burn at the altar of Elon’s ambition, and that the fire might rage out of control while he’s busy glancing over at his rockets, his Hyperloop tunnels or putting the finishing touches on his dope-ass new solar roof. All those factors are causing David Einhorn and a legion of his fellow traders to go short on TSLA.
    Just to remind you, their plant used to be the joint Toyota-GM NUMMI plant, and the most cars that it ever produced under that management was 428,633 units in 2006, or less than 8,500 units a week, and Tesla is saying that it can ramp up from about 120 units a week to 10,000 units a week over the next 18 months.

    For his next trick, Elon Musk will appoint a horse to his board of directors.

    But the underlying story here is that Tesla releases profoundly mixed numbers, reveals that its production ramp up plans are unrealistic, and they get shorted by speculators.

    In response to an awful quarterly report, the stock goes up, and the speculators take it on the chin, because ……… Elon!
    This is what happens when you short a cult. At this point, R Kelly has nothing on Elon Musk. And the notion that a short squeeze might put a shudder in Tesla’s rise seems – like all other rational ideas that come in contact with Tesla – to be neutered by whatever Tesla investors think of Tesla.

    So, here’s our last word of caution to you hedgie analysts out there crunching numbers on TSLA: You’re wasting your time. Tesla isn’t about facts and figures, it’s about belief in the divinity of Elon f%$#ing Musk. You’ll never understand what is happening because the Kool-Aid is the stock and a lot of people can’t stop drinking it.
    (%$# mine)

    So, Tesla is facing a unionization effort from employees who say that their manufacturing facility is abusive and dangerous, and the corporate response has been (I am not kidding here) free frozen yogurt at their Freemont, CA plant.

    So now Tesla is warning its workforce, one that already has issues with excessive mandatory overtime ans safety issues that they will be facing, "Production Hell".

    Honestly, I'm half expecting a strike in the next 18 months:
    When Tesla chief executive Elon Musk handed over the first 30 Model 3 sedans to reservation holders last Friday, he warned employees they’ll be in “production hell” for the next several months. It was a curious remark, as Tesla employees have been voicing concerns about workplace injuries since earlier this year. Employees reiterated those points in a letter to Tesla’s board Monday, and demanded answers to questions about pay transparency and safety.

    “We’re tired of suffering preventable injury after preventable injury,” said Michael Catura, a production associate at Tesla, in a statement. “It impacts morale, it slows down production and it’s of course traumatizing and financially difficult for the affected person. We want to know what the company’s plan is to address this problem, and to see whether or not any progress is being made.”

    The letter, signed by the Tesla Workers’ Organizing Committee, said it believes in Tesla’s mission to build a mass-market, emission-free electric vehicle. But the committee cites a number of ongoing issues, and it requests access to a safety plan and clarity on pay and non-retaliation agreements for employees trying to form a union. Earlier this month, a group of 10 factory employees presented a petition with questions about how workers are paid and how raises are distributed. BuzzFeed reported that about 400 employees had signed the petition.

    Welfare For Overprivileged Caucasians

    Here is a new phrase to me, "Rest and Vest".

    It refers to a phenomenon where entitled dotcommers are allowed to do no works for months on end until their stock options vest.

    The sense of entitlement is really staggering:
    On a sunny summer morning, a Facebook engineer woke up to go to work but felt ill. She ran to her bathroom and threw up. "I thought I was getting sick," the engineer recalled.

    It wasn't a virus or food poisoning. She was having a bad reaction to her job.

    She was making $1 million a year, mostly in stock, and running a team of about three dozen people, she told Business Insider. And she had worked herself into a state of exhaustion in the three years since Facebook had acquired her previous company. The acquisition had been highly political, the integration wasn't going well, and she had been killing herself to make it more successful and protect her people from losing their jobs over it.

    As tired as she was, she couldn't just quit this job. She owed a big chunk of money in taxes thanks to that stock and needed her salary to pay those taxes.

    But after getting violently ill at the thought of going to work, she decided not to go in. Not that day. Not ever again. And she knew she wouldn't get fired.

    Because not going to work was actually her manager's idea.

    The previous day she had told him she would be leaving the company at the end of the year, six months away. She wanted to spend the rest of the year wrapping up her projects but not taking on any more, collecting on the stock that would vest by year end and making the money she needed to pay her taxes.

    "My manager and I had lots of conversations. I teetered on leaving so many times," she said. "But this time was for real. I was going to see these projects to a healthy state and then I needed to go. I felt good about it. The next thing, he told me not to come in."

    She panicked thinking he was firing her, but he explained she wasn't being terminated at all. "Just don't come to work," he told her. "You're burned out and need a break. Just don't talk about it, and everyone will assume you're on someone else's team."


    And that's how this hardworking, conscientious engineer wound up joining the least secret secret club in the Valley, known as "rest and vest."

    "Resting and vesting" is when an employee, typically an engineer, has an easy workload (if any job responsibilities at all) and hangs out on the company's payroll collecting full pay and stock. Stock is often the bigger chunk of total compensation for a senior engineer than salary.

    Once she was in rest-and-vest mode, this engineer spent her time attending tech conferences, working on pet coding projects, networking with friends, and planning her next career move.

    She realized that her manager let her rest and vest to keep her quiet about the problems with that acquisition, so she had time to find her next thing. Had he terminated her immediately, she would have been incensed. "Everyone knew I had a big mouth and would speak out," she said. "He figured, 'Hey, it costs us next to nothing keep her happy for six months.'"
    This is nuts, and it is a sign of a bloated and dysfunctional industry.

    The reason that this effects the rest of us is that these excesses indicate a misallocation of resources, and as such they are not available to more useful purposes than sharing cat pictures.

    To paraphrase Ike, every redundant social media site that is made, every web 2.0 site that is launched, every IPO that is launched signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who actually do useful work.

    Headline of the Day

    The Socialist Movement Is Getting Younger, Thanks to One 75-Year-Old
    Washington Post
    Bernie, of course, has been the proximate cause of this renaissance.

    The article, of course, has a rather condescending tone, but it's nice to see the left increasing in popularity, if just because the consensus of politics in the US is neoliberal crap.

    What a Surprise………

    America's state security apparatus is using the classification review process to suppress a book that details torture at Guantanamo Bay:
    A former NCIS investigator who worked at the wartime prison during the Bush administration has written a book, “Unjustifiable Means.” Now his civil liberties lawyers are asking a bipartisan group of senators for help getting the Pentagon to clear it for publication.

    Retired 27-year career federal worker Mark Fallon’s manuscript “has been held up for more than seven months in ‘pre-publication review,’ and we are increasingly concerned that some in the government are committed to suppressing Mr. Fallon’s account,” the lawyers write six senators. They include Republican John McCain, the former Vietnam War prisoner, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee when it drew up the so-called Torture Report on the Bush administration’s secret CIA prison network.

    The lawyers’ letter describes what might be troubling Defense Department officials about the book:
    “ ‘Unjustifiable Means’ concerns the Bush administration’s policies authorizing the cruel treatment and torture of detainees. It is an insider’s account of the moral and strategic costs of those policies and the many ways that honorable Americans working in government protested and resisted them.”
    Between 2002 and 2004 Fallon was Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Defense’s Criminal Investigation Task Force, and was responsible for some interrogations and evaluating intelligence with an eye toward prosecution by military commission. He has been outspokenly critical of decision making during that period, telling the Miami Herald last year that some captives were brought to Guantánamo based on “the sketchiest bit of intelligence with nothing to corroborate.”
    The did the same thing with Valerie Plame's book.

    This sh%$ is getting really old.

    Snark of the Day

    Pelosi And The DCCC Prepare To Lose Again-- Their Specialty And Only Competence
    It might sound unfair, but it's, well, you know, true.


    Have some Simon's cat:

    06 August 2017

    Tweet of the Day

    It's true.

    From the airlines to Wall Street, it does seem that this is the very modern model of a modern American business.

    The Democratic Party Establishment in a Nut Shell

    The web publication Slate is fairly consistently center left.

    Of course, that won't stop them from an aggressive campaign of union busting against their own employees, including firing organizers.

    This is the problem with Clinton/Obama liberalism:  they are all for progressive ideas, until those might slightly inconvenience them.

    They support the working man, but they want their cheap sh%$ from China, and they want "Undocumented Americans" treated fairly, but they don't want to pay more to get their landscaping done, and they are horrified by price gouging by big Pharma and excesses of Wall Street, but they want the campaign donations.

    If you wonder why promises of economic justice by the mainstream Democratic party are not taken seriously by much of the electorate, this is it:
    Slate has been a solidly liberal voice online for the past two decades. So when its staff decided to form a union earlier this year, they didn’t expect a drawn-out labor fight. Yet Slate management has put up stiff resistance to the effort for months, using rhetoric that anyone familiar with attempts to weaken organized labor will recognize.

    The site’s management declined to voluntarily recognize a union in March, after more than 90 percent of editorial staff signed cards signaling their intent to join the Writers Guild of America-East. Higher-ups, including the site’s editor-in-chief and the company’s chairman, have since tried to dissuade them from unionizing at all, according to internal emails obtained by Splinter.

    Current and former employees, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution, said it’s left Slate organizers grappling with how aggressively they should force the issue in a newsroom known for technocratic liberalism. The question has become even more complicated as the publication has fashioned itself as a standard-bearer of the anti-Donald Trump resistance.


    Current and former staffers said that the top-down campaign against the union hasn’t been as cartoonish as what’s been seen at other media outlets, such as DNAinfo and Gothamist, where management essentially threatened to shutter the sites if they unionized. But the pushback has been consistent from the start.

    Soon after the vote to unionize in March, Editor in Chief Julia Turner led a non-compulsory staff meeting at which management outlined its anti-union position in full, according to both interviews with staffers and internal emails. Jacob Weisberg—former editor of the site, and currently both the chairman of the Slate Group and primary host of its popular Trumpcast podcast—has largely spearheaded the efforts through memos to staff filled with familiar anti-union talking points.


    Slate management has called for a second vote to be administered by the National Labor Relations Board, sowing trepidation among organizers who fear a time-intensive process in an agency increasingly stocked with Trump appointees. Union organizers counter-offered, calling for a second vote conducted by a private third party. So far, Slate brass haven’t budged.

    “We can only conclude that this is their time-consuming and demoralizing way of discouraging us from unionizing,” the Slate Organizing Committee said in a statement to Splinter. “We still feel strongly that we deserve a seat at the table to negotiate a contract that offers us more security in this volatile and uncertain industry.”


    Slate’s union drive began during the final stretch of the 2016 presidential campaign, when then-politics editor Tommy Craggs—a onetime executive editor of Gawker Media—began discussing the idea with colleagues in earnest. He told Splinter in an email that he approached Turner in October in order to avoid appearing overly hostile.


    “I really don’t know if the union drive would’ve been better off if I’d never said a word to her,” Craggs continued. “I do know that I never expected to hear the Slate [editor in chief] talking like a Heritage Foundation white paper.”


    Craggs was among five staffers, including another editor involved in the union drive, L.V. Anderson, let go from Slate in February. A company spokeswoman called all the job losses “layoffs” at the time, saying that they “were unrelated to any union activity.” But Craggs, pointing to the ongoing search for his replacement, disputes that characterization. “I don’t think I got fired for trying to unionize Slate,” he wrote. “I got fired because I’m the sort of person who would try to unionize Slate.”

    One of the Rules of Whacked Out Conspiracy Theorists

    No matter where they start, all end up blaming the Jews, case in point, Russia conspiracy nutjob Louise Mensch:
    You can say a lot of things about Louise Mensch, everyone’s favorite conspiracy theorist and unhinged internet troll, but you can’t accuse her of not knowing how to spin a good yarn. The author of novels like Venus Envy and A Kept Woman—the titles give you a pretty good idea of what’s inside—is a natural storyteller, a gift she’s been using lately on Twitter to convince her hundreds of thousands of followers that she is, as my friend Jamie Kirchick wrote, “perpetually on the cusp of exposing a massive conspiracy on the part of Russia, dating back decades, to make Donald Trump president of the United States.” Yesterday, Mensch introduced an unexpected plot twist to her Twitter potboiler: America wasn’t hacked by the Russians alone; the Jews helped.

    One Jew in particular: Bibi Netanyahu, dark lord and, apparently, apprentice to puppet-master Putin.

    Because the pleasure of indulging in lunacy lies in the minute details, here goes. The saga began last night, when Mike Cernovich, himself a fan of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, tweeted to protest the firing of Derek Harvey, a National Security Council official sacked by National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, suggesting that Harvey was let go because of his allegiance to Israel. Another Twitter user responded and accused Cernovich of being an agent of a Russian-sponsored coup d’etat. It was precisely the kind of language that summoned Mensch into the fray.

    “Love you sir” she tweeted back, with all the subtlety of an oversexed British boarding school adolescent. And then, having warmed up to her subject, she continued: Obama, she tweeted, was right to despise Netanyahu. Oh, and Netanyahu was colluding with Russia to help Trump take an ax to the beating heart of American democracy.


    What is Netanyahu, then? And where’s the proof of his subterfuge? What’s up with the RISSAD, which used to be called the Mossad but which Mensch has renamed Russian Israeli Trolls Loyal to Moscow Over Jerusalem, suggesting Israeli intelligence, too, is in Putin’s pocket? And why rehash, as Mensch did this morning, the ridiculous canard that Chabad is secretly a vessel for connecting the Kremlin and the Knesset?
    Anyone who had two brain cells to rub together knew that Mensch was an addled conspiracy theorist, but because it fit a narrative, she got an OP/ED in the New York Times.

    Even if Russia did everything that they have been accused of in exactly the manner accused, and the evidence is at best sparse, it is neither unusual nor unprecedented behavior.

    US interventions in foreign elections, including Yeltsin's 1996 reelection in Russia was far more extensive, including tacit support of vote fraud, as was Winston Churchill's intervention by his intelligence agencies in the 1940 US Presidential election.

    As I've said before, Donald Trump's election was a perfect storm of many factors, but the entire, "A noun, a verb, and Vladimir Putin," crap serves only to gloss over the very real institutional failures of the Democratic Party, and as such continues to set it up for electoral debacles.

    05 August 2017

    Not a Surprise

    Getting rid of Travis Kalanick may have been hard for Uber’s investors and board of directors. But replacing him could prove harder.

    As the company’s board inches ahead in its search for a new chief executive to run the embattled ride-hailing company, candidates are dropping out before they’ve even met with every board member. Kalanick himself is rumored to be angling for a return, and some investors question whether any candidate could fill its departed leader’s shoes.

    In other words, this is not a typical job opening.
    This is not a surprise.  The best parts of Uber are profoundly toxic, the worst parts are illegal, and Travis Kalanick is attempting to regain control of the company, which, considering that he may have control of a majority of voting shares, is likely to put off anyone who has any concern about their reputation.

    Any attempt to fix Uber will likely fail because, with Kalanick in the wings, the employees will likely slow-walk any attempted reforms, because they believe that they will be reversed.

    It's a toxic mess, and the only person willing to step into it will have to either have nothing to lose, or have no f%$#s left to give.

    There aren't a whole bunch of those in the C-suite.

    04 August 2017

    When Donald Trump is the Adult in the Room………

    Donald Trump has decided (IMNSHO correctly) that Afghanistan, aka, "The Graveyard of Empires," but the very serious people in his security establishment want to continue doubling down on failure:
    President Donald Trump’s top national-security advisers are searching for a way to overcome the commander-in-chief’s reluctance to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan as divisions on the National Security Council complicate strategy for the 16-year-old war, officials said.

    The president’s reluctance to embrace an open-ended commitment has resurrected discussion of other options, including proposals to scale back the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan or to hire private contractors to play a bigger role. Top Trump administration officials met to discuss the options Thursday after Mr. Trump asked his team for alternatives, according to current and former Trump administration officials.

    The search for a strategy for Afghanistan comes amid upheaval at the NSC following the removal of three staff members by H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser. The three officials were hired by his predecessor, Mike Flynn, before he was forced to resign after 24 days in the post.


    Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had hoped to have a new Afghan strategy in place by mid-July, but White House talks bogged down as Mr. Trump challenged the need to send more U.S. forces into a fight with no clear plan for success, the officials said.

    At a meeting last month with his national security team, Mr. Trump questioned the leadership of Gen. John Nicholson, the Kabul-based commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, the officials said. The president’s criticism, reported first by MSNBC on Wednesday, drew a brusque response on Thursday from Sen. John McCain, (R., Ariz.).
    Trump is right, and the US foreign policy establishment, aka, "The Blob," is wrong.

    This should be no surprise.  The Blob supported Libya, and supporting al Qaeda in Syria, and fomented a coup in the Ukraine, and they were all disasters.

    Rule 1 of foreign policy:  The Blob is always wrong.

    Rule 2 of foreign policy:  See rule 1.

    Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen!


    In February, San Antonio District Attorney Nico LaHood allegedly did just that. LaHood was prosecuting Miguel Martinez, who stood accused of shooting a graduate student named Laura Carter in the head during a drug deal gone bad. Martinez’s trial derailed soon after it began. On the second day, the government disclosed that its star witness, who was also a possible suspect in the killing, had once had a sexual encounter with a prosecutor in the DA’s office. The defense argued that the relationship gave the witness a motive to help the government and gave the government a reason not to investigate or charge the witness. The defense accused prosecutors of violating their constitutional duty by failing to disclose that information before trial. The defense lawyers asked for a mistrial and indicated they may ask the judge to bar further prosecution.

    According to defense pleadings, LaHood threatened to shut down the opposing counsels’ practice during a meeting in the judge’s chambers. He allegedly said he would “go to the media and do whatever it took” and that he did “not care what happened to him.” Their client would also be at risk, LaHood allegedly said, because he would be “better prepared for trial the next time” and he would “pick a better jury.” The defense lawyers, Christian Henricksen and Joe Gonzalez, asked for a mistrial. Trial Judge Lori Valenzuela granted their motion.

    In March, the defense moved to bar future prosecution. At a hearing the following month, LaHood denied under oath that he’d threatened the lawyers’ livelihoods. He claimed the defense’s allegations were false and accused the defense attorneys of acting in bad faith when they alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

    Valenzuela, who had observed the incident, then took the stand. (Valenzuela did not preside over this April hearing, as she was a witness to the events at issue.) She described how, without provocation, LaHood had threatened to make sure the defense lawyers never got appointed on another case, becoming so enraged that she feared “somebody would get hurt physically.” She explained that LaHood may have committed misdemeanor official oppression, a crime that occurs when an official uses his power to “mistreat” others or impede them in the exercise of their rights.
    Might have committed official oppression? Might have?


    He did it in front of a judge who testified against him.

    He needs to be jailed and disbarred.